Pfizer begins making shot that targets Omicron, original Covid-19 virus

Pfizer will be ready in March to approach US regulators for clearance of the modified vaccine and bring it to market. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Pfizer is developing a hybrid vaccine that combines its original shot with a formulation that shields against the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the drug giant's top executive said.

While research continues, Pfizer will evaluate the new hybrid formulation against an Omicron-specific shot, and determine which is best suited to move forward by March, chief executive officer Albert Bourla said at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference on Monday (Jan 10).

Pfizer will be ready in March to approach United States regulators for clearance of the modified vaccine and bring it to market, and it has already begun production, Dr Bourla said.

Pfizer had said at the end of November, shortly after the new strain was first detected in South Africa, that it was working on a stand-alone Omicron-specific vaccine.

The New York-based drug giant and its German partner BioNTech are also testing higher-dose versions of their vaccine and evaluating different dosing schedules, Dr Bourla said.

He said he continues to provide additional resources to the company's vaccine unit and is also looking to deploy its messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology in other spaces.

"Clearly, (mRNA) is a very powerful technology and we're just scratching the surface of it," he said.

On Monday, Pfizer announced a trio of deals to build up its budding franchise of mRNA candidates to target Covid-19, rare diseases and cancer.

Pfizer is also making inroads in scaling up access to its oral Covid-19 treatment, Paxlovid.

"In a couple of weeks, we will have it everywhere," Dr Bourla said of US access to the pill.

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